What is Marquetry

Marquetry involves cutting out and piecing together thin slices of wood, known as veneer, to form decorative designs and patterns.  The veneer is sliced by hand using a razor sharp blade or scalpel. However it is the sharp focus and even sharper precision which are the marqueteur’s true tools of the trade.  The process Theresa follows is the window method, one of the oldest and most sophisticated forms of the art.  It dates back over 500 years to the 1500s when master craftsmen from across Europe began to school themselves in what was a new and popular decorative trend.

Theresa's Marquetry Process

The first stage is to draw out your design on paper. You then need to transfer your design to the veneer itself. This can be done by using either tracing or carbon paper.  I like to cover the veneer in low tack masking tape as this helps me see the transferred image and also holds the veneer together as you cut it.  The down side of this is that you do need to carefully remove the masking tape before the laminating stage so does add time to the overall process. 

Marquetry Process

Marquetry Process

Marquetry Process

It is now time to cut the veneer. I use a 10A Swann blade which i will change several times as it is vital to have a razor sharp blade to avoid ripping the veneer. Cut the veneer using lots of shallow cuts. Never try to cut through the veneer in one go as this will often tear it and your blade will wonder off its desired course. Which will lead to gaps.  The blade of the scalpel also needs to be kept upright so that the edge of the cut is clean and vertical.

The 'Window' Method

Once the shape is cut out this piece of veneer is removed.  A different veneer can then be placed behind the resulting hole, or “window”.  Using the edge of the "window" as a cutting guide the new piece of veneer can be cut.  

This insert piece is then removed from its leaf and gently pressed into the “window” and taped using special veneer tape.  Each piece is added this way, eventually ending up with the finished picture the thickness of a single sheet of veneer.


 intricate hand cut marquetry